Blog Entry

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:14 am
The new-look Knicks have had supreme highs and desperate lows. So what's the story with the Knicks' inconsistency?
Posted by Matt Moore

There is no more valued word among NBA coaches than "consistency." Consistency is the mark of greatness, the key to success, the building block of progress, and the thing that is most elusive for teams during a season. Getting players to exert the same level of effort, focus, understanding, and execution across any stretch during 82 games is nearly impossible, made all the more difficult by injury, youth, chemistry, suspension, and ego. So how do you work to get consistency from a team? You practice, endeavor, train, bond, and most of all, try and bring in players that will provide that kind of effort and production night in and night out. The easiest way to do that is to have star players. Veterans who know how to execute, and can duplicate that performance at a high level on a Thursday night, nationally televised game against a Western Conference title contender and on a Tuesday night League-Pass-er against a lottery squad. Star players in the NBA are more than just players capable of incredible highlight reels and singular stats-stuffed box scores. They bring it each and every night. Superstars are how you make your team more consistent. 

So why are the new-look Knicks so inconsistent?

Since trading for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are 6-6. The Nuggets are 8-2, but that's a whole other story. It would be one thing if the Knicks were beating middle-of-the-road teams and losing to elite squads, essentially playing to their potential and role this season. But that's not what's occurring. The Knicks have wins over playoff teams in New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, and a huge win over Miami. They have losses to Dallas and Orlando, understandable, since those teams are better overall than the Knicks. But they also have two mortifying losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and one to the currently bottoming-out Pacers, who they face in a back-to-back rematch Tuesday night. (Update: The Knicks fell to the Pacers again, on a Danny Granger dagger to lose the back-to-back set.) In short, the Knicks are all over the place. 

The Knicks traded in a lot of assets that had been playing well together to get Carmelo, banking on the long-term and short-term payoff to outweigh the cost of sending four starters to Denver in return for one starter and a superstar. What's interesting is how the team has shifted since the trade. The Knicks had been averaging a 107.7 offensive efficiency and a 107.2 defensive efficiency before the trade. Offensively, they've improved as you would think they would, jumping to a 110.7 offensive efficiency. Defensively, however, they've also taken a hit, jumping to 108.7. Sounds about right. But the bigger issue is not the overall results, which are favorable, still. This team was never going to be a defensive ironmonger under D'Antoni. His system is geared to send potential rebounders springing for the break. That, plus the kind of light-footed bigs needed to make the system function results in a high number of offensive rebounds allowed, which provide more opportunities to score, and with most of the personnel geared for offense, that means they're often not defensively brilliant and the result is the team giving up a ton of points. But the team is still outscoring the other side on average. So what's the issue?

The issue is that they manage to pour it on against teams like the Heat who are defensively brilliant while holding the Triad to an 88.7 offensive efficiency. That's stunningly good. Then three games later they give up a 126 defensive efficiency to the Cavaliers, who couldn't hit water if LeBron James walked back in the door and personally towed them to water. They drop 107 points (118 offensive efficiency) on the Hornets, then turn around and produce just 93 (98.9 efficiency) against the Pacers. The Knicks are going up and down and there's no rhyme or reason to it. You can attribute part of the random nature of the results to Chauncey Billups' absence, but not enough. The Knicks are simply all over the place. Furthermore, the results aren't really tied to Melo's performance, either. 

Anthony scored just 14 on 6-18 shooting against the Hawks and they won easily. He pours in 29 on 10-16 shooting against the Cavaliers and they lose. There is one interesting corollary. In the 12 games Melo has been with the Knicks, they have never won when Anthony has posted a negative +/- mark, and never lost with a positive +/-. It seems obvious, but it does show that Anthony is in some way relevant to the Knicks' nightly performance. 

So how does D'Antoni solve this rollercoaster puzzle? In short, he can't. James Dolan (and Isiah Thomas) cut the roster he put together with Donnie Walsh off at the knees in order to screw on the robotic Melo cyborg suit he's got now. Chemistry doesn't just come together, it takes time. And consistency is an even further extension of that. D'Antoni's not going to all of a sudden be able to fix the problems the Knicks are having because the problems aren't obvious. They're complicated and intertwined in effort, hot and cold shooting nights, opponent matchups, and the ever elusive idea of chemistry and how players play and live together. That takes time, and work, in a situation where the Knicks have no time to work on such issues. Either these things will fix themselves naturally over the final month of the season, or you're just going to have to flip a coin as to which side of the Knicks we see in the first round. 

(Efficiency stats courtesy of HoopData .)

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: March 18, 2011 7:40 am

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

that's padding

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: March 18, 2011 12:00 am

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

They're inconsistent because they have 1 good big man, no bench, and they don't play defense.  They should get a coach who doesn't focus on just offense, play zone with Stoudemire in the middle & than they'd be ok.  They still have a long way to go before they contend, though.

Since: Mar 17, 2011
Posted on: March 17, 2011 12:37 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

I have never been a fan of d'antoni's system. it is not condusive to championship basketball. think about all the talent he had in phoenix. yet, every year good defensive teams sent him, his talent, and his system home for the summer regardless of how many regular season games he might have won. if you cannot get stops when you need to, you will never win a championship in the nba. i don't care how many points you score. either him or his system must go for the knicks to bring back those glory years of the 70's and 90's.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: March 16, 2011 5:39 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

Speaking as a Nuggets fan, we loved Carmelo when he played with us and most don't have ill feelings.  Every sports team has a few idiot fans, I'd argue the Knicks by virture of having more fans have even more idiot-fans than we do.  Also, I think Isiah has largely scarred Knick-fan for life, there's no way to get over that. 
Carmelo was straight up with the Denver team that he wasn't going to re-sign, then said everything right in public (even if it was mostly bull), played hard for the team despite distractions, and gave the Nuggets the chance to acquire as many assets as team management could for him before the trade deadline (something the cavs and raptor management did not do or did not get the opportunity to do). 
I wish Carmelo would have wanted to stay a Nugget, but I at least appreciate he was honest with Nugget management and let them get some decent assets.  In the long-run I feel pretty confident the Knicks will be looked at as the winner in this trade as Carmelo is a superstar worth everything and more than the Knicks gave (and worth way more than Andrew Bynum or Joaquim Noah as a side note). 
If Anthony gets a ring I will be happy for him, I hope this doesn't turn into a needless rivalry between Melo and the Nuggets.  It was a fun 7 year ride.  Carmelo is a Knick, and the Nuggets are not the Cavs....  It aint all bad.

Since: Mar 31, 2008
Posted on: March 16, 2011 4:25 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

you are right on the money with everything you said . As a Nets fan i was excited on possibly trading for Melo, but after it was all said and done the Nets got a better overall player at a cheaper price!

Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: March 16, 2011 4:09 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

Everyone on here knows you are a liar. No one in Denver 'Disliked" Carmelo when he braught them to the playoffs every year. As soon as everyone in Denver heard he wanted to leave, all of a sudden no on has ever liked him. 
There was a lot of good teams in the west. Teams that were better then them, that went to the finals, Lakers, Dallas, San Antonio. They were just better teams, period. The Knicks have been out of the hunt for a decade. 

Since: Jun 16, 2009
Posted on: March 16, 2011 2:21 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

Looking at that picture, can someone get Melo a jersey that fits?  The boy likes cake.

Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: March 16, 2011 2:02 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

The guy is too slow and uncoordinated for a run and gun system.  That's the reality of it, something Melo fans can't get themselves to admit.  Every one of the players that Knicks traded away is quicker and more coordinated than Melo.  It was a ridiculously stupid trade on the part of the Knicks to go after this horse and pony trot-down-the-court and weasel to the rim ballhog scorer, who can't even shoot well percentage-wise most games.  And offense was never the Knicks problem, they had the 2nd best offense in the league right before the trade, what they needed to add to their already excellent cast of(and now former) role players was a big man who could score and play D.  Knicks ownership screwed this one up bigtime and I don't think the team wil ever win anything significant with Melo, no matter how much they attempt to build around him because of what type of selfish one dimensional player he is.

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: March 16, 2011 1:53 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

  Anyone can buy a championship,

Wellllll, ...  Mark Cuban, Daniel Snyder, & Hank Steinbrenner may disagree. 

I get your point though!

Since: May 31, 2010
Posted on: March 16, 2011 1:46 pm

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

When did building a franchise and a team become a lost art?  Anyone can buy a championship,  so who really cares!  The nba a joke bring on march madness!

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